A Fire That Purifies

“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Malachi 3:5-7a New Living Translation

As we transition to chapter three in our reading of Malachi, God reminds the people of the promise of the Messiah to come. The promise begins with a messenger that will precede the appearance of the Messiah. This messenger most likely points to John, who came prior to Jesus. In spite of the corruption of their society, the people still look forward to the coming of the Messiah. What they fail to remember is that the Messiah will also come as a judge to remove the corruption in their land. Malachi uses the imagery of precious metal being purified in a fire to show how God will remove the corruption from Israel on the day of the Lord.

The list of the corruption that God will judge shows how seriously He takes the concern of those oppressed by the wealthy people of society. Sorcery, adultery, and lying are mentioned, but God goes on to include those who do not pay their employees fairly, those who oppress the most vulnerable members of society (i.e. the widows and orphans), and those who deprive foreigners of justice. God sees the treatment of the poor and the outsider as evidence of their reverence for Him. If all humanity is created in the image of God, then taking advantage of the most vulnerable members of society demonstrates a lack of respect for the image of God in the people we neglect and oppress. A person who does not fear God will not fear the consequences of their actions toward the poor until it is too late.

While God is not pleased with the corruption of this generation, He reminds them of His covenant and His unchanging nature. He will always be faithful to their ancestors and will not completely destroy them even as He seeks to remove the corruption from their society. He offers them the opportunity to return to Him and follow His ways. He will continue to preserve those who are committed to His ways and seek to raise up a generation that is more committed to Him.

The unchangeable nature of God can be a comfort to us. God is committed to the restoration of His creation and the death of Jesus shows that He will stop at nothing to undo the effects of the Fall and the corruption that has resulted from it. His desire is a people who will live according to His ways and honor others as fellow beings created in the image of God. He desires a world where justice and righteousness reign. Sometimes we will experience the fire of trials in our journey through this world. Those fires are for our purification to burn away the unjust influences of society and to reveal the glorious image of our Creator in us more and more.

God, thank You for Your faithfulness to Your mission of restoring Your creation to its intended purpose. Help us to never take Your faithfulness for granted and to resist the corruption of our society.

Published by llongard

I grew up in northeast Wisconsin. After high school, I moved to Minneapolis, MN to attend North Central University and graduated 1992 with a degree in Biblical Studies and Humanities. I spent most of the next fifteen years in the Twin Cities area until my family and I moved to Indiana in 2007. For most of the first seventeen years after college, I was involved in university ministry either as a volunteer, bi-vocational, or full-time campus minister. Through those years, I also worked in the main street marketplace as a retail manager/trainer and as a service representative in the insurance industry. I've also worked in various education roles. Most recently, I have been working on various projects addressing homelessness in Indianapolis and as team lead for Diakonos Community, a Communitas International missional initiative. Through this ministry, we seek to build missional communities in Indianapolis that serve and bring the life of Christ to those on the margins of society. Our strategy is to collaborate with community agencies that serve those in need and share Christ through meaningful relationships. I am blessed with a wonderful wife, three amazing daughters, and two cats (can't forget the cats, LOL). As a family, we enjoy camping, hiking, gardening, and going to the YMCA together. I also enjoy fishing, riding bicycle, and being involved in whatever my daughters are doing. Though I have not lived in the Green Bay area for over 20 years, I am still a major Packer fan.

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